Clearwire comes to Spain with mobile WiMAX

Following through with its ambitions to expand outside of its US home market, Clearwire has announced plans to offer mobile WiMAX services in the Spanish cities of Malaga and Seville starting next year. The company said it would be using WiMAX 802.16e infrastructure equipment from Alvarion and ZTE in the 3.5GHz band to offer high-speed mobile broadband services under the Clear brand.

This move will see Clearwire compete with Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone each of which have invested heavily building HSPA networks capable of downlink speeds of up to 3.6Mbps. However, the Spanish fixed broadband penetration stood at over 21 per cent at the end of 2008, according to Pyramid, which is five percentage points below the Western European average.

Speaking to Unstrung, Stela Bokun, analyst at Pyramid Research, said Clearwire "will have to have a very low-cost strategy and fill in the gaps where the big guys don't want to compete. If WiMAX operators target rural or high-density areas where Telefónica and other big players do not want to invest or are not providing high quality of service, those may be places where they'll have more success."

Speaking at the ITU Telecoms Show in Geneva, Barry West, president of Clearwire International, said: "We intend to prove that WiMAX can work not only at 2.5GHz, but also at 3.5GHz." He added: "We believe WiMAX affords Clearwire an unprecedented time to market advantage in meeting the pent-up demand for wireless broadband services in Europe."

Orange, Vodafone, Telefonica and TeliaSonera all have mobile operations in Spain, but none is likely to have 4G services in place until 2012 or later, even though Madrid has been a hotbed of LTE testing by Vodafone and China Mobile, and Telefonica recently announced its own trials, to start next year in its home country.

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